In part because of its commitment to quality journalism, for which so many are rightfully grateful, the Times Company’s profit margins have always been narrower than most of the industry, and consequently it has less of a margin to absorb declines. Yet it is on that foundation of quality that Sulzberger places his faith. “It is our belief that the reason why the Times has survived when so many of its competitors have faded, is because it maintained a strong value system that has always been an essential part of our tradition,” he wrote to me.
With the economy slowing, and critical retail, real estate, and auto ads evaporating, it seems inevitable that things must get worse before they can hope to get better. That means Sulzberger’s abiding faith in the Times is about to undergo its sternest test of all.